Thursday, September 22, 2011

And Now Back to Our Cooking Blog

Just wanted to mention that after watching all those dosa videos (see below) I gathered up the courage to actually MAKE dosas!  

Two years ago, at Camp Masala, a lovely lady showed us how to make dosas with potato filling.  Yum.  She gave us the recipe and everything.  But since it involved making the dosa batter from scratch and fermenting things, I never was brave enough to try.

This summer I got up the courage to buy the ingredients when I was at the Indian grocery.  They sat in my cupboard for 3 months.  Until Dosa Video Day.

So, without further ado, here is the recipe.

Dosai Batter

1 part lentils (Urad Dah) 
3 parts Ponni rice (Ponni rice is best, but you CAN use basmati rice)

Soak these, separately, for at least 8 hours.  (Lentils should soak 1 part lentils to 3 parts water (or 1 cup to 3 cups) and Rice should soak 1 part rice to 2 parts water).

Blend lentils and water in blender and then rice and water.  (They take different times to blend, so it is better to do them separately).  Should be like a thin pancake batter.

Pour together into a bowl and let set for 24 hours or so at room temperature to ferment.  (In the winter, you might need to give it a head start – preheat your oven to warm, then turn it off and put the bowl in there until it just starts to ferment).

When you are ready to cook them, heat your skillet to high.  If you are not using a non-stick pan, grease lightly.  Pour approx. 1/3-1/2 cup of batter on skillet.  Using scoop bottom, spread the batter thinly to about an 8-10” diameter.  Drizzle approx. ½ t of oil on the top. 

When the dosai starts to brown and the edges curl up, flip it over and brown the other side (just for a minute)

Fill with potato curry or serve with chutney (or both!)

Batter stores in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.  You may need to add some water if it’s been sitting.

I also watched this video to help.

I did add the fenugreek seeds.  The grinding (in my blender and I used all the soaking water) really did take as long as in the video.  20 min. for the dal and 15 min for the rice.  I had to do the rice in two batches.  My batter sat for 30 hours, covered with a dish towel and did nothing except get a layer of water on top of the rice/dal.  I went to work and when I got home late that night, ta-da! It was fermenting!  I was so excited!  So be patient with the fermenting.

I did not have a flat-bottomed scoop to use for spreading the batter on the pan.  I watched another video where the guy making the dosas just swirled his pan around as you would with crepe batter.  I tried this and it worked perfectly.  

I used 1 c. dal and 3 cups idli rava with the above mentioned ratios of water and it made LOTS of batter!  I think I had 15 dosas.  Then I made idli TWICE (my idli maker holds 16 idlis) and then I still made about 5 more dosas the next day for lunch before I used up all the batter.  By the end, those last dosas were very tangy tasting, even tho the batter had been in the refrigerator.

All in all, it is not so much difficult as time-consuming.  You need to soak the dal and rice for 8 hours.  Then grind.  Then ferment (took 36 hours or so).  Then cook all the dosas standing at the stove, one at a time.

But, mmm, were they good!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things

Another disgusting picture.  A foodie blog, this is not!  But it does provide an introduction to a couple of things I've been wanting to share for a while.

Chickpeas (chicken peas, my kids call them)
(there are also kidney beans, or "kid beans" in this salad, and although I love them, I was not particularly going to talk about them today.  I just wanted you to know how cute, or weird, my kids are, renaming everything)


Some of my favorite things:
crock pots

First, chickpeas.  I just love them!  Is there a more perfect food?  They are salad, they are chole, they are oven-dried and crunchy, they are hummus.  They are wonderful!  Oh, and if you buy them dried and cook them yourself, they are also cheap!  Which leads me to

My crock pot.!  Yes, (s).  I own 4 of them, none of which I actually purchased, btw.  You haven't done anything until you've stuck a crockpot under your jacket and snuck out of Target!


One was a wedding gift, one was a Christmas gift, was was part of my inheritance and one came from my mother when she downsized.  Two of them hold 5 quarts of stuff!  Those are my favorite!

So anyway, if you ever thought cooking dried beans was a pain in your bean, you have not cooked them in a crock pot!  If you have ever tried to read about doing it online and thought even they made it sound complicated, you have not cooked them in a crock pot.

Here is what you do:
Dump dried beans in your crockpot (it IS a good idea to rinse them and/or lay them all out on a cookie sheet first.  I really HAVE found little stones and little hunks of dried mud in my dried beans!  If you don't like the idea of that, pick them over first, like the bag says.  However, being lazy, I often skip this part.)

For a normal-sized crockpot, I'd start with a 1 lb. bag.  I buy mine in bulk and just dump until my eye says it's right.

Cover beans with water.  The water should cover them by an inch or inch and a half.  We have a water softener and I use soft water (the hot side of my kitchen faucet).  I think I've forgotten and used the hard water and it's been fine, but the soft water has never failed me.

Add salt.  I like salt.  I add a tablespoon or so.

Add bay leaves.  I like bay leaves.  I use 2 or 3.

Cover crock pot and turn on high.  Go away for 4 hours.  Actually, you should check it ever 2 hours or so to make sure there is still enough water.  If you need to add more, add HOT water.  It takes too much energy and time for your crockpot to heat up the cold water you dump in.

Taste beans.  Mine are usually done in 4-6 hours.

Drain well.  Dump in ziplocs and freeze.  I like to make sure they are spread out flat in the bag.  It makes it easier to break off a hunk if you don't need the whole bag when you take them out. Ta-Da!  Beans you can use anytime!  No muss.  No fuss.

I do black beans, pinto beans, white beans and garbanzos (chick peas).  I buy my kidney beans and red beans in a can.  Conventional internet research says if you don't heat red beans hot enough, there is a toxin in them that is harmful.  A crockpot wouldn't heat them enough, I don't think, so I just buy them canned.

Ok. Onward and upward.  What was next?

Tupperware.  Oh, I just wanted to mention the container that my ugly salad is in.  I bought a whole bunch of those containers when my sister, who was  Tware consultant, was ending her consultantship.  I got a great deal on them and I use them all.the.time.  Love my Tupperware.

And Owlhaven.  I have her cookbook Family Feasts for $75 a Week and it is seriously one of my favorite cookbooks!  There are so many recipes in it that I make all the time.  I can't speak to the $75 part, as I don't follow that part of it.  Can you feed your family for $75 a week?  She says you can.  Most of the tips in her book I already did before I bought the book so I guess they are good and useful!

But you should go buy her book so you can make Easy Pizza Rolls and Thai Chicken Curry (with homemade Thai Red Curry Paste, yum!), and Orange Chicken and Chili Corn Pone Pie and Chicken Pot Pie with Cheesy Biscuit Topping and Spaghetti Carbonara and she has crock pot recipes and rice cooker recipes and Cheesy Garlic Biscuits and oh!

And this ugly Chickpea Salad you see in my tupperware above.

It's only ugly because my chickpeas are still frozen, but when they thaw out, it will be so delicious!  This is the second time this week we are eating it.
My modified Owlhaven recipe:
Chickpeas (about 3 c.)
a can of kidney beans
a can of black beans
half a red onion, sliced
a whole mess of attracting-fruit-flies-sitting-in-a-pail-in-my-kitchen tomatoes (about 2 c. diced--yours do not need to have fruit flies on them)
a big handful of black olives, sliced in rings
1/4 c. or so fresh parsely, minced
1/4 c. or so fresh basil, minced
2 cloves garlic in the garlic press
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. olive oil
3 T. lemon juice
1 T sugar
salt and pepper

Mix the dressing ingredients and pour over the ingredients that are not part of the dressing.  Let stand on your counter or in your fridge several hours to blend flavors.  YUMMERS!

yeah.  This is why she makes the big bucks writing cookbooks and I don't.  But try it!  This is so good!

A Whole Lot of Blogging Going On

3rd meet
This is a huge meet --there were 121 runners in this race and there were TWO varsity races.  Rose Bud was at first disappointed to find she had finished 43rd, but was more pleased when she heard her time was 16:52--that's a 6:48 pace!  Her personal best so far!

This is a picture of a very sick Rose Bud (and a sympathetic dad) on her way to WATCH her teammates run in their home meet.  There were some tears as she struggled through the decision (hers, not ours!) to not run today.  Her legs were sore and weak, she was coughing and her nose was stuffed up.  I think she still had a sore throat, too.  It's the first meet she's missed.  Ever.

This is a feeling-much-better Rose Bud during homecoming week.  Each day has a dress-up theme.  Today's was Under the Sea for sophomores and, can you tell?  She is a jellyfish.

In case you are in need of a very cute costume for the upcoming holiday, this was SO easy!  

---this is the part where my blog becomes a craft blog--

We used a clear garbage bag which we lined with purple plastic wrap taped down with clear packing tape (I only taped the shoulders, bottom and a spot in the middle). 

 I laid strips of clear packing tape (sticky up, in case you are supremely craft-challenged) on my diningroom table and stuck the ends of 3-ft (estimated) lengths of curling ribbon about ever 3/4" along the strip.  Then I stuck the beribboned packing tape all along the bottom edge of the garbage bag (the open end).  Ta-da!  Tentacles!  

Cut a head hole in the top (this is the actual "bottom" of the bag) and arm holes in the sides and slip the plastic bag over your child's head!  This was the scary part.  You know, how you KNOW you shouldn't lick the frozen flagpole, but you want to, just to see if all the stories are TRUE!  Pull the bag down so the head pops through the head-hole.

Oh, I also poked slits about every 2 1/2" along the tentacled edge of the bag and threaded another piece of ribbon through.  This we cinched tight like a drawstring after we pulled the bottom up to waist level.  This made the jelly part puffy.

---end of crafty section of blog---

This disgusting picture is the inside of Banana Boy's mouth.  Shining on the left side there are his brand-spanking new crowns!  He was unblessed to be born with cruddy enamel on all his baby teeth (Rose Bud has this too, on her permanent molars)  Thankfully, his permanent teeth all are beautiful and lovely so far.  Anyway, these crumbly baby teeth are crazy-prone to decay.  About a fourth of that front crowned tooth was gone by the day we had this done.

Banana Boy handled the dental work like a champ!  He lay in his spa-chair watching Madagascar while our wonderful pediatric specialty dentist (who also put on Rose Bud's crowns and pulled out Sunshine's dead front tooth) sang BB little songs about how wonderful he was.  BB was pretty annoyed by the numbness afterwards and had some pain as it wore off, but a couple of doses of ibuprofen and a lot of iPad time distracted him nicely.  I was so proud of him!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

First Day of School

This year we have 2 in one school district (Rose Bud and Sunshine), one in a different school district (Banana Boy) and two at home (Daisy and Pepper).  Call me crazy, but I think it's going to work very well.

 Banana Boy and Sunshine's first day of school.  Rose Bud is a sophomore this year and at the high school, only the freshmen and new students have to attend the first day.

 Banana Boy is in the window to the left of the emergency window (the one with the white bar at the top)  The first day, the bus backed into our driveway.  Now it stops on the road to pick him up and drop him off, then turns around at the top of the hill up the road.
After we watched BB get on the bus, I drove Sunshine for his first day.

 I also picked Sunshine up from his first day so we could see BB get off the bus.  Sunshine was so excited to see his big brother get off the bus!  Chaya thought this might be a good opportunity to slink down to the road.

 BB's 2nd day of school was Rose Bud and JayHay's first day (remember, they're sophomores).  We always take pictures at their house for the first day.  We drove over to watch the kids get on the bus there and then I drove BB to school.  Here are BB and his best buddy, Little Hay.

Rose Bud and JayHay.  I remember when they were just kindergarteners!!!!  They don't put their arms around each other for the photo anymore.

Homeschoolers, Daisy and Pepper (apparently in their homeschool uniform! ??) and LayleyHay.

 Rose Bud 10th, JayHay 10th, Daisy 7th, Layley 6th, Pepper 5th, Little Hay 3rd, BB 3rd and Sunshine 1st. Lined up by age (which no longer matches height!)

Friday, September 9, 2011

AND Then THIS Happened...

Out of the blue.  With no warning.  Nothing hit it.  There were no sticks. No branches.  Just a loud crash interrupting a peaceful morning of reading (and Indian street food video watching).

My advice to you is that if your glass-topped patio table is more than 12 years old, give it the old once-over.  And maybe put a tarp under it.  It will make clean-up that much easier!

Frittering Away the Day Watching YouTube Videos of Indian Street Food

 Check out the ants crawling on the bamboo "cutting board"!  Love it!

Watch this guy's face!  He's so cute about being videoed!  He is clearly an expert at dosas! We were hungry for dosas, can you tell??

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Cross Country Season is Back!

The season began with time trials on 8/27.  Much of last year's team consisted of seniors and a good portion of the underclassmen did not return, so it's a brand new team this year.  I think there are only 3 returning team members.

Anyway, Rose Bud ran 2nd among the girls in the time trials, earning her spot on the varsity team.  Her time was 14:01, an improvement of a minute and a half over last year.

The first meet was a 3200K or 2 mile race.  She again ran 14:00, again an improvement of 1:30 over last year at this race.  She placed 22nd overall.

The second meet was a standard 4K and they ran in a thunderstorm.  Rose Bud was thrilled to find that she cracked the top 20 for the first time, earning a medal!  Her time was 17:31 (last year, 18:31) and she finished 19th!

Way to go, Rose Bud!